"Covid Proof" Your Wedding
Updated: Jul 24, 2021
Let's face it, 2020-21has been totally thrown off course by the COVID pandemic. Businesses shut down, health care overwhelmed, hiding inside to try and stay healthy, the list goes on and on, AND ON! With the chaos of all this swirling around you to make decisions for your wedding date, you guys are slightly, if not majorly freaking the f out, am I right? You have the perfect venue booked, a guest list topping over 200 people, and your perfect bridal party in place to be right your side every step of the way until you say 'I do'. But what happens when the world stops or pauses so to speak. What happens when bans are put in place and safety concerns rise for your guests. What are your real and REALISTIC options?
My honest hope is that you have a planner/coordinator to walk you through all these upcoming decisions or one that has been by your side since you said "Yes" in the midst of a global pandemic. I would be lying if I said this is about to be easy on you and anyone involved. You deserve to have someone be there for you, walking you through EVERY step of this. Unfortunately, that's just not the reality for every bride. I decided to make this guide to help all engaged couples adjust, re-work, and COVID - proof your wedding day plans for good!
Here is where you get REALLY real with yourself. We are living history right now and as we live history we have to be prepared to make HUGE decisions. As I break down your options and run through your choices I want you to be prepared to deal with conflict of your heart. Naturally, with any change, there is going to be discomfort and maybe even some tears shed and I am here to say that's okay! This pandemic has a direct effect on your wedding day and TBH that's not always fun to admit to yourself or anyone else. Let's focus on reimagining what "we gather here TOGETHER means"
Alright babes, step one of "getting real"... the guest list.
As much as we could jump right into changing your date, the truth of the matter is changing your date probably isn't the best answer anymore. The wedding industry is getting rather backed up in reschedules from last year and you are going to be looking at a whole lot of struggles trying to find vendors available. You may loose money already put down on current vendors or loose the vendor all together, my best advice after doing a full season of this try not to change your date. Changing your date comes with a ton of challenges like setting a new location, figuring out how to travel to said location, worrying about traveling safely, the list goes on and on. If I were you, I would start focusing on your guest list and who 100% needs to be present for you to wholeheartedly, happily tie the knot. When you envision "We are gathered here together today" WHO has to be present?
Shrink it down girl - For those considering "reworking" their entire wedding
At this point, you really need to consider your people, who are your people? When you imagined together while planning your wedding with all your friends what did you see? Tons of people all around you supporting you? Do you truly need all 200+ friends and family watching on or can we reshape your vision for your day?
At this point, you really have two choices in moving forward. Minimize for more control: meaning shrink your list to have a bit more wiggle room with keeping your original date. Or fully accept you are giving up some control over your wedding right off the bat by keeping your guest list as is and hoping for a new date. Let's talk about minimizing for a second. It is way easier to convince a smaller group to still come out amid the risk factors considering you can likely socially distance your day this way. I'm not saying everyone won't want to come if you do have a large guest count, but you need to consider people declining for safety reasons and be willing to accept it as not personal.
Positive factor number two of shrinking the list, in the event that there are still restrictions in your state you could consider running off somewhere with fewer restrictions. Now, this probably opens up a can of worms saying this because a lot of states have only essential travel recommended and is your wedding essential? That's going to definitely come down to your needs, wants, and view on essentials. Am I recommending this, not necessarily. But it is an option floating out there.
I'm gonna be totally honest and insert some opinion in here for two seconds so just hear me out. You don't actually (legally) NEED anyone but your significant other and someone to ordain you to tie the knot. Well actually that's not opinion, that's facts. And I get it, "but Kinzie that would feel so weird, so lonely. People would be disappointed." So here is where my opinion is, to be completely point blank, this is about YOU two. No one else. If you want to keep your wedding date and get married in your living room, by all means, DO IT. But let's play hopeful and say there are no new waves, or crazy regulations are all lifted and group gatherings are limited to 10 or 50. You totally can opt to have an intimate scale wedding! Downsize your guest list, consider new intimate venues that are still legally operating. Or you totally can alter your wedding to be a badass elopement somewhere incredible you never even imagined. Is this a sign that you are supposed to elope instead? Well it sure will be if you were already considering it, and high five to that.
But if you're not about running off to some mountain top to tie the knot keep in mind you could have an intimate scale ceremony with your immediate family and friends. Then celebrate on a larger scale later when it's safe to do so. Imagine this, keep your date, invite your immediate family and maybe even live-stream everything for the previous guest list. This is also where you can use your already booked wedding venue for your reception. Most venues should transfer your paid deposit to another date in the future and then you can have a full-blown reception with all your family and friends!!! I am sure this is overwhelming and heartbreaking for some of you, but I really want to encourage you to consider this a very unique opportunity to have a two-part celebration!! Or to shift all together and have an intimate size wedding/elopement. As a couple who had only our parents and siblings at our wedding, along with our photographer and our officiant, intimate weddings rock!! But pause the tears if you are ugly crying thinking there is no hope for your dream of a full-scale wedding pull out the tissues, wipe up your tears and let's chat about your other options!
New Date, New You - For those of you considering keeping your guest list as is If you have been near a panic attack over the idea of trimming your guest list, it really is time to start thinking about a date change. Unfortunately the pandemic is still booming and most venues in major cities have guest count restrictions. I use the word thinking and not the phrase have to because depending on when your original date is you may still have some time. However, if your wedding is quickly approaching here's the lowdown on choosing a new date. If you do decide to go this route it's definitely in your best interest to start having that conversation with ALL your vendors now. Here are some key questions to be asking your vendors: What is your reschedule policy (get this in writing)? What amount of money from my payments already made transfer? What new dates are open for me to consider? Are their additional fees incurred for moving my date? Make sure to keep in mind, if you decided to move your date you are giving up some of your control and that is probably control over your new date. A lot of vendors are dealing with a lot of reschedules and the truth of the matter is you are likely not going to get anywhere near your second choice. This is also why making this choice first is so important! If a new date is on the horizon you are going to be competing with other couples to secure a new date all over again. You are going to be picking from what is likely an already full calendar. And let's not forget all the couples who have wedding before you rescheduling first.
I'm going to insert some personal opinion in here again and I mean this with all the love in the world... try and remember your vendors are human. Hopefully they are kind and accommodating. I really hope they are. But on the off chance they are struggling with all this rescheduling, remember this could be eating away at them emotionally. This could be affecting their ability to pay bills and feed their family. Just please keep in mind they are dealing with a lot too. I know this is YOUR wedding and they are hired by you, but this is their income and business. At this point as tough as it is, Covid is somewhat of a known factor so if you locked in vendors in the last year, you may loose deposits and monies paid all together. Every one of your vendors should accommodate you to the very best of their ability, but also per their contract, remember what you signed is what you get. Make sure to review all contracts already in place, what's done is done and legally everyone is bound by the contract.
At the beginning of the pandemic a lot of us accommodated a lot of reschedule brides to whatever open dates we had and now are lacking in the reschedule department. Some vendors don't have open dates so they may need to use members of their team to handle your services or offer you less favorable dates choices like weekdays or Fridays. Try to keep in mind they aren't doing this to upset you or take away your dreams, they are doing what they can. This is why I said if you are wanting to keep your list, you are going to have to let go of total control. And always reference that contract when discussing needs and wants for a new date.
** On the fence still, here is some full scale wedding magic to remind you why you fell in love with a larger wedding in the first place **
If you decided a new date is for you, congrats! How excited and daunting all at once to be almost back at square one. It's time to reach out to all vendors who might not already know and get the new plans set in stone. Here are some other things to get done ASAP
-Pull all existing contracts with vendors for review and make sure you know exactly what you are stepping into. Make sure to reference this when communicating with your vendors so everyone is on the same page. Ask any needed clarifying questions before signing and new contracts.
-Update guests, send out new invites to notify everyone of your new date. If sending out a second round of invites is out of budget, consider an FB event page!
-Prepare for a totally different group of confirmed people! Let's face it not everyone can reschedule if they are traveling. Try to be understanding if some people who were originally coming, can't make it anymore.
-Set a budget for any needed changes! This can sound overwhelming but the reality is you may end up with some additional costs due to change of date. Make sure you are planning for this and setting expectation so you don't run yourself dry.
-Get all your vendors on the same page about the new date and any other logistics.
-Consider any weather changes with the new date. Should you prepare different accessories to accommodate more heat or cold? Do you need to supply umbrellas for new risk of rain? Should you pick a different venue or ceremony location at your existing location to accommodate potential new weather?
-Consider if you are going to have to pick different "in-season flowers" I know some florists can source out of season flowers but this may change the budget of your florals, make sure there is no grey area when it comes to date changes and what that means for your needs and wants with florals.
-Consider any changes in transportation. Will it be much colder or hotter and affect your plans to be out and about for photos and other events.
-Consider any changes to the menu if needed. Sometimes a hot meal on a hot day isn't the most appealing. Make sure you consider your menu with your new date in mind.
-Rework timeline to accommodate the time of year. With a different date can come a different sunset and timeline. Make sure you are in contact with your photo + video team about the date change and what this might mean for your timeline.
If you decided a whole rework of your wedding is in order, cheers to needing an overhaul on all your plans! If you are scaling down and switching venues, or pushing your original date out for a reception at a later date here are your to do's. I also want to throw in a friendly reminder, though you can totally elope in your living room during a SIP or travel somewhere without one, remember to be safe and consider all health risks before making any decisions.
-Decide if you want to full-on elope or just have a more intimate vibe wedding.
-Confirm new guest list
-Set new location/venue for the ceremony if needed
-Bump venue date for the reception if needed or cancel with the original venue altogether. Make sure not to pull any triggers until you are financially aware of everything that comes with the change.
-Notify guests of the change of plan. Pour yourself a glass of wine and remind yourself this is YOUR day. If anyone is grumpy about your new plans they can get over it.
-Contact all original vendors and make sure they are on board with a new location if they are still going to be needed. Make sure to communicate all downsize changes to any vendors this may affect. You don't need bouquets for your bridesmaids if you're not having them and you probably don't need catering if you are eloping on a mountain. Make sure your officiant is available for the new location or get in contact with a new one.
-Consider any weather changes with the new location and any adjustments to be made to accommodate. If you are about to hike to your destination you may need hiking boots. You may also want to reconsider your ballgown style wedding dress you originally wanted.
-Consider any needed alterations of hair and makeup plans. Do you need a more "sturdy" look? Do you need a totally different timeline for when you start getting ready? Communicate your wants and needs with your hair and makeup team!
-Consider any new needed transportation, flights, car rides, etc.
-Consider any new needed accommodations
-Make sure to check in on potential SIP's for your new location and any other travel restrictions, national park closures, etc.
-Keep up with all CDC recommendations. Hold tight to the fact that there may be more changes to come if you are risking keeping an upcoming date. Restrictions can always get tighter.
-Make sure you are aware of any paperwork changes like where to get your license if you are getting married in another state or location.
If you made it to the end of this congrats on making needed changes for surviving what is probably the wildest turn of events for your wedding you could have ever imagined. I cannot even imagine being in your shoes and seriously you all deserve a spa day and a giant mimosa. Hopefully, things will clear up soon but in the event that they don't make sure all your vendors are using proper sanitation protocol to keep extra germ exposure at bay. I would pack all the wet wipes and hand sanitizer. Don't be afraid to speak up if you don't see what you think is proper protocol. And remember to voice your concerns prior to your day with all vendors so you can discuss any added safety measures and protocol so you and all guests are completely on the same page! Hopefully, when you look back this will be a crazy memory you laugh at and are thankful for.
Sending all the Hugs, Extra Cups of Coffee & Happy Wedding Planning Wishes